Authorities are investigating after a crocodile, believed to be 70 years old, was found decapitated at a Mount Isa lake in north-west Queensland.
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Barron said police believed the three-metre reptile was killed on the banks of the Junction at Lake Moondarra more than two weeks ago.
“For a freshwater croc, it’s a fairly large animal, and that in itself is quite distasteful — that a creature of that age could be targeted by somebody,” Senior Sergeant Barron said.
“It’s definitely [of] serious concern that such an iconic animal has been targeted by an individual out there at that time.
“The freshwater crocs out there are iconic to the area, and not only are there safety concerns regarding people slaughtering animals like that in that area, it’s also the social impact of it that’s important.”
Senior Sergeant Barron said a forensic investigation was underway, with the Department of Environment also involved.
Police believe several crimes have been committed in addition to breaches of the Nature and Conservation Act.
“There’s also a series of weapons offences that we’d be interested in, people discharging firearms in that area is of significant concern to everybody,” Senior Sergeant Barron said.
“It would not be expected to be an easy or fast job to do to decapitate an animal of that size.
“In relation to our investigation there’s some information which is very specific to how that head was removed that we need to hang on to at this point in time,” he said.
However, he said police were confident they would catch the offender.
The Mount Isa Water Board, which is responsible for the lake, said it was informed about the dead crocodile on August 5.
Board CEO Stephen Farrelly labelled the killing a disgraceful and senseless act of animal cruelty.
“Mount Isa Water Board absolutely condemns this sort of behaviour, and I am sure the local community would agree,” Mr Farrelly said.